Former recipients now sponsoring scholarships
Deutschlandstipendium – The next generation
After celebrating her acceptance for a Deutschlandstipendium last year, civil engineering master's student Ines Voggenreiter searched online for "Christian Schmied". According to the acceptance letter, this was the person financing her scholarship. She found a doctoral candidate at the TUM Chair of Product Development. "That can't be him," Voggenreiter thought. After all, there wouldn't be much left over from a doctoral student's salary at the end of the month. This made the surprise even greater at their first meeting: It was him!
The scholarship holders get 300 Euros each month. The German Federal Government, initiator of the national scholarship program, pays half of this amount. The universities involved raise the other half of the money themselves. TUM has convinced around 100 sponsors to support approximately 500 scholarships for the new academic year, making it one of the most successful universities in the program. The sponsors include companies and foundations, but also a large number of private individuals like Christian Schmied and Stephan Wolf. Both are entering the second year of support for "their" recipients. And in the meantime it turns out that they are the first two former Deutschlandstipendium holders to finance scholarships themselves after completing their studies.
Funding a scholarship with the first paycheck
"When my first salary paycheck hit my bank account, I thought, 'Now it's time to give back'," Schmied recalls. And Wolf also decided to fund a scholarship only a few months after beginning his career as a developer at a major IT company. Schmied doesn't find the timing unusual, much more he thinks it makes good sense: "As a recent scholarship recipient you still have a vivid impression of how much the Deutschlandstipendium helped."
Schmied received support when, "financially speaking, my back was up against the wall". He had to interrupt his studies for quite some time following a serious traffic accident. After that he was only able to take occasional jobs and faced a number of bureaucratic obstacles from public authorities. "The people who really helped were the TUM."
Personal involvement considered in selecting recipients
When choosing scholarship recipients, TUM considers personal circumstances such as social involvement and individual factors such as dependent children, migration or a non-academic family background, in addition to performance in university or high school studies. Thus for example scholarships were awarded to first semester students who had previously participated in the TUM auditor program for refugees this year.
TUM’s concept was one of the main reasons for Stephan Wolf to "give something back to society" here and not in another manner. "On top of that I wanted to invest in education, because that has the longest-term impact. And I was particularly pleased about the personal contact to the recipients."
Wolf and "his" scholarship recipient, Anne Nyokabi, communicate by e-mail or Skype every two weeks. At 26 years of age, Nyokabi is in the TUM master's program for informatics. "Not only is Stephan taking an enormous financial burden off my shoulders, I've already benefitted enormously from his advice on my studies, too. For example, when it was time for my first practical internship, I was very nervous since I didn't know anything about German corporate culture," says Nyokabi, a native of Kenya. "Stephan was very encouraging. In the meantime he's like a friend to me."
"A culture of scholarship support, passed on from generation to generation"
Quite a few friendships have also formed among scholarship holders, who meet on a regular basis and support social causes according to the principle "Donating Talent". Here for example Anne Nyokabi and Ines Voggenreiter have helped inspect accessibility at public sites for those with disabilities and have supported campaigns assisting refugees.
"I couldn't hope for anything better than this emergence of solidarity within the TUM family," says TUM President Wolfgang A. Herrmann. "This togetherness in turn facilitates joint dedication to social issues. It is remarkable that, within only five short years, this has led to a sustainable culture of scholarship support at TUM which is already being passed on from generation to generation." In the meantime a substantial number of TUM professors are following the President's call to sponsor scholarships themselves and to get involved in the Deutschlandstipendium program.
Christian Schmied says he's following the example set by his own sponsor, manager and TUM Honorary Citizen Dr. Otto Majewski. Ines Voggenreiter is sure that she'll sponsor a Deutschlandstipendium herself in the future. Anne Nyokabi adds: "That would be my dream, to be able to help someone else the way Stephan Wolf is helping me now."